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Old 12-19-2018, 03:05 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 14
Help! Which bus is best? (of these 3)

Hello all,

I have been searching for a bus for about 4 months, we are looking for something:

1)under 25ft (to fit in our lot)
2)atleast 6ft (I'm 5'10)
3) Diesel
4) under $5000 for bus ($3800 us) want to spend $5000-$7000 on conversion
5)good service record

In the next two days we are viewing a new round of options

2006 ford e450 6.0l diesel chair-a-van shuttle bus
Privately owned,not safetied
$4000 CA ($2966 US)
with 398,000km (247,305 miles)
Diesel "runs and drives great"

1998 international school bus 6 window
Privately owned
$3000 CA ($2226 US)
With 11,500km (7,145 miles)
Diesel "no accidents, in good condition"

2004 ford e350 shuttle bus
Formerly ministry owned and operated
$5000 CA ($3800)
286,000 km (177,712 miles)
Gas "currently on road, runs and drives well, new brakes all around"

I've read all of the forums on gas vs Diesel, and shuttle bus vs school bus. Anyone have fresh opinions on these matters? I am also wondering:

Is it hard to build on the fiberglass body to create a practical interior? Can you build on the roof of a shuttle bus?

Is there such a thing as too few miles on a bus. The school bus seems like the dream bus I've been waiting patiently for but ONLY 7,145 MILES IN 20 YEARS?!?! Is this too good to be true? Do engines.have a shorter life if not used? Will try to find the reason for the lack of use when viewing it tomorrow.

I have been wanting to buy for quite a while now but don't want to buy a lemon. Any insight is much appreciated. I appreciate all the wisdom gained through the forums and look forward to hearing your opinions.
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Wantabus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-19-2018, 03:21 PM   #2
Bus Nut
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 934
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International
Engine: TE 444
Rated Cap: 12
Stay away from the 6.0 diesel unless you have another $4000 to have it bullet proofed. If the millage is right on the 1998, jump on it, the gas one is not bad but it is a narrow body bus
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Old 12-19-2018, 04:26 PM   #3
Bus Geek
EastCoastCB's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 21,477
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
The second bus is the only one I'd even consider.
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Old 12-19-2018, 05:43 PM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 1,376
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
#2 is the only option of those three.
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Old 12-19-2018, 05:59 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 9,030
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
My choice would be the international, but I'd be willing to bet more that that's a new speedometer then actual mileage. no one in their right mind would ask the same amount of money for a 7000 mile vehicle over one that has 250,000 miles. Unless I saw documentation common sense says mileage is not accurate.
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Old 12-19-2018, 10:06 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,950
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
I'm willing to bet that International has had the gauges replaced ... oh ... about 7145 miles ago. A fairly common thing on this vintage of bus (the original gauge clusters often developed failed solder joints and things stop working. They can be fixed if you're handy with soldering or know someone who is). I can't make out the emblem on the hood to see if it has the T444 or DT466 engine but either one should serve well in a smaller bus. The DT466 is the much more preferable engine, but the T444 would not be a deal breaker. Find out what transmission (not just "automatic", you want the actual Allison model) and rear axle gear ratio is if you can. The reason is because the Allison AT545, while adequate for school bus routes, isn't a great cruising transmission, and a rear-axle ratio of 5.38 (without an overdrive transmission) is going to give you a top speed around 55.

I'd pass on the 6.0L engine unless, as Kubla said, you care to spend a good bit of extra money correcting the deficiencies of the engine. More than one forum member has bought one of these engines, only to have it fail on the trip home (or soon after) - a replacement engine being somewhere around US$20,000 plus labor (they cannot be rebuilt after such a failure). Once these engines have been "bulletproofed", however, they have a pretty good reputation. At nearly quarter-of-a-million miles, it may be nearing a rebuild anyway (if it hasn't already been done, and at that price, I kind of doubt it).

The '04 with a gas engine may be getting near a rebuild too, it's hard to tell.

The one advantage of the shuttle bus bodies is somewhat more headroom and a lower floor (of course that takes away from any underbody storage or room for plumbing/water tanks you may want). The International will have a much heavier frame and suspension, chances are you'll never overload it. The same can't be said for the shuttles - many were close to maximum weight when they left the factory. Many shuttle buses don't have steel floors, only a layer of plywood. Some shuttle buses with fiberglass bodies end up with the steel "skeleton" rusting out from the inside out. This is extremely difficult and expensive to repair, many otherwise roadworthy buses went to scrap for this reason.
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:17 AM   #7
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 14
Thanks everyone for the help. Will have to continue the search. The 1998 international was a moldy rust bucket all.of the information has been helpful, i will not be seeing the other vehicles. But am going to a bus lot now, maybe we'll get lucky. Hoping 2019 brings some fresh contenders, I'll be scoping out auctions too. Any ideas to expand the hunt are welcome!
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:23 AM   #8
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 21,477
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Just stay patient and watch the auctions. You'll land a great deal eventually.
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:31 AM   #9
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 4
on the hunt too

Heyas - im on the hunt too, and my range/specs are close to yours. Here's some stuff I learned that you asked about shuttles/fiberglass.

"poor mans fiberglass" is a thing, great for repairs/mods
Yes, you can put things on top of a fiberglass shell, VHB tape works really, really well. I've seen solar panels held on with it.
DO NOT drill thru the roof. it WILL leak. No matter how much sealing you do.
There's a product called "Weld-Mount" - it seemed to be the best thing i could find for mounting cabinets and suck to the fiberglass walls of a shuttle. Pricey, but hey, I don't want the dang cabinets falling off going down the road...

Oh - and about diesels... I believe you want something made before 2003-2004. thats "pre electronics" or something. And definitely skip the 6.0's. and the 8.2's, and the at545 trannys... I know man, it's hard. but it's out there, just gotta keep on keeping on.

Good luck on your search.....
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advice needed, diesel engine, short bus conversion, shuttle bus conversion

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